Put tees, ball markers, lip balm and an extra ball in your pocket.
Pick up a scorecard. Look up course handicaps if you’re having a match. Tee it forward. Lower scores usually mean faster rounds!
Teeing it forward is especially worth considering if your companions prefer to play up a tee. Why not move up one set? It’s not that much of a difference, it’s more social and your game will move faster.
OK, now you’re ready to go to the first tee.
There are a lot of cute headcovers on the market, but how much time are we spending covering and uncovering? Golf Digest’s David Owen suggests leaving your driver headcover in the trunk. At the very least, take it off at the start of the round and leave it off. Consider taking off all other head covers as well, or, as you use your clubs, remove the covers and put them in your bag or in the cart basket. Then you know they’ll be safe when you redress your clubs at the trunk.
Next time you play with good friends, suggest that you time each other — at the tee, in the fairway, on the green. Start the clock when you take your club out of your bag.
The USGA recommends players hit within 20 seconds of selecting a club.
How’s your time? If it’s long, analyze.
If you went long telling a story, learn to say, “Hang on,” and surrender the stage for a moment.
If your friend talked through your routine, learn to say, “Hold that thought,” and step up to play.
If you spent too much time rehearsing, work on shortening your routine at the range and practice green.
And for the sake of the rest of us, limit yourself to only one practice swing or stroke.
Many players don’t realize that “play ready golf” means to step up to the tee when you are ready and other players are still fiddling around. It also means that when you arrive at your ball, you should prepare for your shot and be ready to hit it when no one else is, no matter who’s away.
”Play ready golf” means ditching honors at the tee and playing even if you’re not away. You can even play ready golf on the putting green if you’re not on someone’s line. Just say, “I’ll go.” It’s not rude.
Being ready does not mean you are going to toss grass in the air, walk to all four sides of the green and take three practice swings when it’s your turn. You can do those things while others are walking or playing.
Carry an extra ball in your pocket so you can quickly play again if you hit a shot out of bounds, or so you can hit a provisional when you think your ball might be lost. In fact, hit that provisional if there’s any doubt your ball will be found.
This seems so obvious, but, how often have we lingered to finish a conversation, check our phones, or even wait for a slow player to join us? Once everyone has hit, it is time for everyone individually to go directly to the next shot. If all four balls happen to have landed in the same circle of friendship, then that’s a perfectly nice time to walk en masse. Otherwise, the pursuit of the golf ball precludes niceties. You can always finish that conversation on the 19th hole.
Go now. And walk briskly. Think of the calories you’re burning.
If you miss your first putt, you do not have to mark your ball and wait. You can say, “I’ll finish,” and do so unless you’ll be stepping on someone’s line.
First to finish putting usually stands by the flagstick to replace it when the last has finished putting. But there are exceptions.
For example, in a mixed group, those playing the longer tees may be dismissed from the green to prepare for their next shot while those playing the forward tees finish putting. And if you’re the only back-tee player in a group of forward-tee players (typically, the man with three women), don’t think you’re being a gentleman by hanging around the green until the ladies have finished. Leave early so you can clear the next tee for them.
In any case, don’t think of it as rude for two players to finish putting and head for the next tee. It is a bona fide play-faster tactic that, more than any other tip here, helps a group that’s fallen behind to catch up.
You’re already keeping a scorecard. Check the clock every three holes and agree to try to beat a 40-minute pace (four hours for 18). When everyone is calling out scores, call out the times, especially at the turn.
If you’re riding in a cart, take your shot and jump back in without putzing around at your golf bag. You can clean and replace your club while your friend is playing. Another option: Encourage your friend to go to her ball to play. You can walk to the cart when you’ve finished.
If it is cart-path-only (an estimated 30-minute drag on pace of play), always take three clubs with you to your ball. If you chunk a shot (yes, you), just walk to the ball and play the next one without walking back to the cart to get a different club.
Always park your cart or clubs between you and your next destination. You never want to have to go backward after you’ve finished a shot or a hole.
Take off for the next tee immediately after you’ve finished a hole. There’ll be time to write down scores while everyone is teeing off. Yes, they’ll still remember by then.
And if it’s couples day in carts, here are two approaches:
Pay attention to where others are playing. Don’t make them wait because you’re walking in front of them.
Fill someone’s divot or rake her bunker if you’re already safe and she’s struggling. Make a habit of announcing yardage to others when you laser a par-3 or see a fairway marker. Help to pick up stray towels and clubs at the putting green.
The entire foursome does not have to look for a ball. Two can look, two should play. And limit the search to a minute or two, not the allowed three, unless you’re playing golf with gold balls.
If your group cannot keep up with the group in front of you, invite the group behind you to play through